Located just less than two hours from Brooklyn in the heart of Pennsylvania near the Poconos Mountains, lies several quiet towns filled with museums, restaurants, antique shops and things to do. Perfect for a family weekend away, it is not only full of activity but also quite affordable and you won’t break the bank taking advantage of its many offerings.
A good place to start is Bethlehem. Known as “Christmas City”, it was named on Christmas Eve, 1741, by a group of Moravians who relocated from North Carolina and settled at the confluence of the Lehigh River and Monocacy Creek. Bethlehem has six distinct National Historic Districts within its boundaries, as well as two National Historic landmarks. Many of its original structures, built by the early settlers, still line the streets of the downtown historic district. The downtown area is quaint and great for a strolling family. You can explore the the antique shops, wine shops and art galleries on Man Street.
A solid hotel suggestion is the Hyatt Bethlehem, located right in the center of town at 45 West North Street Bethlehem, PA 18018 (Tel: 610-625-0500). For $159 a night, you can get a spacious suite that easily sleeps a big family. Free parking in a covered lot, breakfast is included and they offer free Wifi. ($149-$299 per night)
The Crayola Factory in Easton, just 20 minutes away, at Two Rivers Landing (Tel: 610-515-8000) is popular with kids of all ages. There they learn how crayons and markers are made in their Manufacturing Theatre; how melted wax is boxed and labeled; they can color on the Dry E-Racecar; paint with melted Crayola Crayons in Meltdown; play on the Chalk Walk;color on canvases with wands in After Dark; dance in Cool Moves; color on the walls in the Inside Out Wall; and get their creative juices flowing in the Creative Studio. Admission is $9.75 per person/children ages 2 and under are free.
When it is time to eat, you can walk across the street to Pearly’s Bakery at 11 Centre Square (Tel: 610-253-9949). Perfect for lunch and full of other families, they have both pub fare and more upscale entrees. They offer delicious salads, sandwiches, soup and casual fare. They have a children’s menu, with kid’s meals for $5.95 and choices of mac & cheese, chicken fingers, fish sticks, grilled hot dogs and PB&J on wheat with carrot sticks.
From there you can head to Da Vinci Science Center at 3145 Hamilton Blvd. (Tel: 484-664-1002 x112) to spend the remainder of the afternoon. The center is 10,000 square feet of science and technology activities for children of all ages. It’s a true science museum in every sense of the word. Your kids can wander around the many exhibits: At What’s Alive? they learn about non-human living systems; at What on Earth?, they can study the Earth & Environment; at Watt’s Up?, they explore light and electricity; at What Works?, they learn about forces and machines. At their current exhibit, KEVA Build it Up!, an interactive visitor experience, curious minds of all ages can enjoy showing off their design and building skills using the popular KEVA planks. The museum is $11.95 for adults; $8.95 for children ages 4-12, seniors ages 62 and up, active military members, and veterans; free for toddlers ages 3 and under and members.
Kids and adults will also love America on Wheels, an auto museum located at 5 North Front Street (Tel: 610-432-4200), showcasing carriages, bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles and trucks. Admission is $7 for adults, free for children.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Holly Rosen Fink has spent the last 15 years in NYC working in all facets of media, from MTV to the world of traditional and online publishing. Now working as a consultant in Westchester, she blogs about travel, theater, film, art, books, advocacy and more at The Culture Mom . She has two children, ages 5 and 7, who share her culture addiction.